A Letter to My Fam

Since starting college, I have found my “fam”. At least, that is what we call each other. My fam and I are not blood related, but we are family by choice.

I came to school this year knowing no one. I was grateful for a fresh start but I was also scared because I was losing my support system. I was forced to trust myself and rely on my instincts being in a new place with all new people. I grew up with a great mom and I believe in how she raised me, but it was not survival that I was concerned with, it was my chosen family.

There are all of these cliché sayings about how you cannot choose your relatives but you can choose your family. And until now, I always shrugged those off as just more quotes to hang on the wall in your home.

But within only days of moving in, I found my family. My roommate (I will call her Kelly for privacy purposes), who might as well be my twin, introduced me to two of her high school friends (they will be called George and Turner for privacy reasons). Kelly, George, Turner, and I bonded right off the bat. Suddenly, and amazingly, I was accepted into their fam.

As the days went on, I became more comfortable and less lonely. The four of us are very different from one another and we all have different situations that have made us who we are but we mesh well together. I was different because I came from Atlanta and I was a different “type” per say, than the people they were used to. But George and Turner took me under their wing and Kelly became my mom away from home. (Not in a negative fashion of course, just a loving one).

My fam would do anything for each other. Even though we do not all agree sometimes and we have very different personalities, when the rubber meets the road I have no doubt they would do anything for me and I only wish that as they read this, they know I would do anything for them.

When I was injured and sick they took care of me by choice, they made sure I was ok, and they went out of their way to help me without me having to even ask.

This week I have been reflecting on how blessed I really am to have my fam. George and Turner have a suite mate (Jake for privacy reasons), and Jake also has become a part of the fam.

Many do not realize the value that friendship holds in others lives. I am so incredibly lucky to have these great roommates and people in my life because without them I would not have made it these last few weeks. Friends are the family that you choose, and friends can save you life. In college, you are surrounded by people 24/7 but it can be so lonely if you do not have a “fam” like mine. Many of my classmates that I graduated with are struggling to find that group of people that they fit in with so well. I found those people within days of moving into my new home here in college.

I can never repay my fam for what they have done for me so far, and I hope they know that I would do the same for them in  a heart beat. I hope they read this and realize how great of people they actually are because many would not have given me the time of day when I was in need.

And I hope that you, the one reading this, find your fam too. I hope and pray you find even just 1 person who makes a difference in your life when you thought you had no one. I hope you can be that person to someone else because you can make all the difference in the world.

So Kelly, Jake, Turner, and George, thank you for being my fam. Thank you for being my chosen family. And thank you for making these last few weeks fun and exciting, even in a bad situation.


To live will be an awfully big adventure

I must start out by saying that I have edited this post for days now, trying to capture the right words to explain the importance of this week. However I do not think that I could ever capture its significance in one blog post.

This week marks the 40th Annual National Suicide Prevention Week. This week is to raise awareness that suicide exists, rather than sweep it under the rug like most in our society do. This week is as much for the living as it is the dead. This week is not to mourn the loss of friends we have lost to this tragedy; But instead this week is to try to save the living. After all, most people that are suicidal do not want to die, they just want to start living.

This life is a hard one. My generation has some of the highest suicide rates that the United States has ever seen. Yet for some reason many choose to believe that it doesn’t exist, and if they do accept that it exists, they assume it will never affect them in their life.

I have shared parts of my story on here before but this week marks something more. 2 years ago my life as I knew it ended. I disclosed the darkest secret in my life and as a result, I felt like I would rather die than continue to live. I decided that life on this earth would be better off without me. I decided that I wanted to go home to see Jesus, even though I was angry at him too for allowing these awful things to happen to me. Thankfully, I gathered the strength to keep going. I told myself one day at a time. One hour at a time. And eventually I learned to love myself again.

A boy I knew, and a precious family I had come to know and love, experienced this tragedy first hand when the combination of bullying and depression took this young man’s life. I think many times that I wish I had come to know him better. that I would have been able to help him. I wish I could have had one meaningful conversation with a boy who’s life was just starting.

Suicide is a topic that everyone refuses to talk about. Its a sad and heartbreaking topic that makes some people feel awkward and bad. But that is what NEEDS to happen. We should be so passionate about stopping these tragedies that people do talk about it. Our society cannot grow without expressing the hard things in life.

This week is so so vital to our nation because young lives are ending before they even get started. Their stories are being cut short mid-sentence by a period that should be a semi colon. They should not be blamed for the way they feel, they should not be considered “crazy” and they should not be made to feel that what they are experiencing is their fault.

One of my biggest pet peeve’s is when someone says that the suicidal are selfish. That cannot be more wrong because many times, people end their lives because they feel the world would be better off without them. In their minds. they believe that they are making it easier for the people they love.

The shame and stigma about suicide needs to be talked about. The blame needs to be pushed away from these struggling young adults and pushed back onto society to make a change. Me, and many others, have been there. I have been in their shoes. I have wanted to leave this world. Thankfully, I am still here trying to help other that are just like me. People who feel that suicide is the answer, are not broken. They are people who need to know that self love is not selfish.

If you are a person that blames the suicidal for the way they feel, please try to see it from a different view. Know that everyone hurts, and know that some people have no support system. They feel alone and misplaced in this world. Do not blame them or pity them. They are strong, they just need someone else to believe that too.

If you are suicidal and you feel like you have no one, you have me. You have more people around you than you would know. To Write Love On Her Arms has a campaign going this entire month Titled “We’ll See You Tomorrow” 2015. Please read their blogs and watch the video that is posted at the end of this post. Listen to  the words of these talented young people. Absorb their words like lyrics in a song. “If Depression is the verse then Hope is the chorus”. Please don’t end your sentence here. Your story has so many more chapters. Your story matters. No one else can play your part.

Peter Pan said “To live will be an awfully big adventure”. This is one of my favorite quotes because your adventure isn’t over. Your adventure is just beginning. Keep living. Stop the stigma about suicide. You may be going through hell on earth right now but even that sentence will end with a semi colon not a period. This is just one chapter I promise.

Live your adventure. I survived because the fire inside of me burned brighter than the fire around me.


College girl’s (or anyone’s) best friend? Support.

As I hinted at in my last post, I was not expecting the first two weeks of college to be this hard. College is supposed to be the best years of your life. But with that said, now that things are calming down and I am settling in, it occurred to me what has been bothering me the most; it has been the fact that I lost my support. Or, at least my support system has changed and shifted.

My best friend is in Kentucky, my mom is in Atlanta, my teachers are back in high school, and my boyfriend is in Augusta. I have always leaned on my family and my friends and these people so much and I had them around (for the most part) all the time. Now that I am here, everything has changed. Not for the worse, it’s just different. I am moving on with my life, but in a totally new and different place. I am meeting tons and tons of new/great people but in two weeks you cannot just develop a whole new array of best friends and family.

I am balancing my school schedule, a new job, managing the soccer team, starting up my own organization, living with new people, and being in the honors program here. I love each of these new adventures and I love the new experiences I am having but it is a lot to balance when your world just shifted.

I am (well, was, as of this coming Sunday) in a support group called “Starbright World” for kids and teens with chronic disabilities and illnesses. Starbright World connects sick young adults around the world. The people on this website bond and create friendships with people across the world with the same challenges that you face on a day to day basis. I have very good friends that live across the U.S. and all the way in Australia because of this website. Yesterday every member was informed that as of Sunday the website with go dark and no longer exist.

Last night (and even today) I feel like I am losing another set of support I had gained in high school when I was diagnosed. But, I am teaching myself that I can rely on myself as well as others. I am teaching myself that it is ok to need other people, but it is also okay to love yourself so much you do not have to rely on other people to make you happy.

The last 3 years have been rough, to say the least, but it was because of other people AND myself that I made it through. I want you to know that you do need support. You do need people to help you through the hard times when you cannot bear the burdens all by yourself. But you know what? Through the support of others, you can learn to rely on yourself as well.

Jamie Tworkowski emphasizes the fact that people need other people. People need love. People need compassion. People need the strength of others as well as themselves. These last 2 weeks I have had a hard pill to swallow. I had to learn to set boundaries for myself and I had to learn to rely on myself while I form new relationships with the new people around me.

When you are starting a new chapter in your life people do not tell you the hard stuff. They don’t tell you that you can be surrounded by hundreds of people all day long but still feel like you are alone in this new world. But, I am here to tell you that you have yourself, and you have me. Start trying to learn to trust yourself. Learn to embrace self confidence and self love.

I HATE when people say that no one will love you if you don’t love yourself. I didn’t love myself for 2-3 years. I didn’t love who I was. But it was because of the love of my friends, boyfriend, and my mom, that I retrained my brain to love who I am.

Please stay strong. If you are feeling alone and like you have no one to turn to, turn to me. Message me, call me, text me. I will listen. Keep fighting guys. Breathe. Your story isn’t over yet.

New beginnings and new stresses

I haven’t been on here in over a week. Its been kinda crazy starting college and all. But today I felt like I needed to write about something. This is something similar to my last post but it’s been bothering me a great deal this week.

For those of you that do not know, I was in a very rigorous program in high school called International Baccalaureate (I.B. for short). So during high school I took college level courses and attained an I.B. diploma as well as a high school one. I say all of this to say that in high school I endured more than most, academically, and emotionally. And now that I am in college I am stressing just as much in high school. So today I had to take a step back and understand that while I do have a lot on my plate, I survived high school. I survived my family being ripped apart, I survived I.B., I survived losing a lot of friends, and I survived being very sick while balancing school, soccer, and multiple clubs.

I can do this. I can balance work and being a soccer manager. I can balance being in the honors program and creating my own service organization. I can balance school work and a social life.

Starting something new means a change. And I don’t know about you, but change scares me. I am a person who likes routine and I like having a schedule. So with this being my first week of college I don’t really have a routine yet. I had a mini panic attack wondering how will I do all of this but I took deep breath (and a nap) and I remembered that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13).

New beginnings are good. Change is good, But you have to understand that it takes time to have a sense of normalcy. and when new challenges come your way, you have to remember what you have already been through. Put your hand over your heart; that heart beat right there, it means you survived Hell and you are still here. Life will always have hurdles you have to jump but many of you have survived the worst of it. You chose to remain on this earth when you felt like being alive was worse than death. You decided to keep going one more day. One day at a time you recovered or are still recovering.

Remember that change is good. Change is stressful. But take a deep breath and step back and look at how far you have already come. Maybe you are still sick, or still hurting, (I know I am), and if that is you please reach out to someone. Contact me or the school counselor or a friend or trusted adult. I felt like I had nowhere to go and no one to turn to but then I did. The key is to keep going. I had to keep going to find those trusted people. The key is to give it one more day. Sometimes one day at a time is too much. So, if it is, just take it one hour at a time. Give yourself a chance, and do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. I defied the odds. I am still defying the odds. And I have your back.

Love yourself, trust yourself. You can do it. You can do ALL things,

Back to school and brave

Most of you guys started back at school this week, and I start college in a week and a half (but move into the dorm in 6 days). The “back to school” groove in high school can be so stressful and cause so much anxiety for everyone involved. Your summer routine ends, you have to wake up early, and sit in a classroom for 8 hours every day. Where as if you’re in my boat, you are moving away from home, only sitting in class for a few hours each day, but have to take responsibility for your own actions without help. It can be pretty scary.

Everyone asks if I am excited to start college. The answer is of course I am! But I am also pretty nervous. College is a place to find yourself, to find your niche in this world. And while you’re surrounded by people 24/7, it can get lonely. I say all this to get to one point. The point is that whether you started back in high school this week or you graduated and are starting college, it is ok to be anxious. It is ok to be nervous about something new.

When I tell someone that I am anxious about something (no matter what it is) the general response is “well just be brave”. But to me, that is a repetitive statement. You can be scared and still be brave. You can be nervous and still have courage.

We all grow up with this kind of understanding that if you are scared, then you will not succeed. But if you are not scared of anything, then how will you ever grow? How will you ever feel accomplished if you are not nervous in the beginning? Being nervous, scared, or anxious doesn’t mean that you are gonna fail, it means that you care about something enough to not WANT to fail.

Going back to school can be crippling for some kids/teens. It can cause panic attacks the night before and for the remainder of the school year. But those are the people who have the most sense of accomplishment when it is all over.

Bravery can go hand in hand with fear. For example, I went to a canyon this week (it was on my bucket list) and I swam under a waterfall. There was a cliff that you had to jump off though. And I psyched my self out about it and became scared to jump. But when I did eventually jump, I felt like I was brave. I felt like I was fearless because I had fear and did it anyway.

I just want all the kids that are terrified all school year because they feel bullied, inadequate, or anxious to know that you are brave. You are brave for waking up at the crack of dawn and going to school. You are brave for sitting in the cafeteria around people who talk about you behind your back. You are brave, simply for just making it this far.

I recommend this song that I am posing with this post to anyone who needs a little bit of encouragement about anything in their life. No one ever told me that this life would be easy. But I never knew that it could be this hard. 

Compliment a stranger

First thing, sorry it has been a while since I posted. I just think that you shouldn’t write because “its time”. You should write because you feel passionate about something and feel led to write about it.

With that out-of-the-way, something has been on my mind a lot lately. It is a heavy topic, too much to write in one post. But it is important to me.

The power of your words is something that is taken for granted nowadays. So many people do not realize that what you speak, to yourself and others, holds a greater power than most other outside forces.

Everyone gets angry and everyone lashes out at the people they care about most. Some people even lash out at strangers. But that is not the way humans were intended to treat one another. A father yelling “SHUTUP” at the top of his lungs to his teenage daughter is going to have a profound effect on her. She will never forget his words, but she will also never forget his tone as he said it.

It is impossible to have zero regrets. Because in the heat of the moment, you may not think about what you say before you say it. But the power of what you say and how you say it stays with a person. It hurts them. I was always a very sensitive kid. Probably too sensitive, but my sensitivity made me highly aware of the power that words have on others. Some of the strongest memories I have are words people have spoken to me. The words that made my heart ache for years and years. The words that made me who I am today.

So many people are too involved in their own emotions to think about what they say. However, positive words can have just as much power as the negative ones. Telling a stranger that you like their shoes may be the only positive words they hear all day. Asking a homeless person how they are doing today may be the only words spoken to them in days. Taking an extra second out of your day to give someone a word of encouragement or positive reinforcement can have the same impact as thinking about the words you’re going to say before you lash out. Compliment a stranger.

I know I have hurt people in the past, and I know I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But what I have learned and tried to implement in my life is having just enough self-control to control my words. The waitress that got an attitude when you sent your food back, she just lost her mom to cancer. The retail associate that you just cussed out for pricing something wrong, she’s working three jobs to support her family. Think before you speak.

Even if people are perfectly kind to the people they interact with, many times they lose that filter when talking to a person they love. You may not yell at a stranger but yelling at your mom, sister, significant other etc., hurts the same, if not more.

I’m saying this in the hopes that you think will think twice before speaking. I am saying this because maybe if you think twice about how you speak to others, maybe you will think twice about how you speak about/to yourself. If you show kindness then kindness will be shown to you. I know that sometimes life sucks. I believe that sometimes it seems like you are a punching bag for everyone around you. But I also believe that if you keep going, if you keep showing compassion, if you show other people that there is love in the world, then love will be shown to you. Life is too short to yell and scream at strangers, the people you love, or yourself. We are all limited in time on this earth, some more limited than others. Make that time count. Do good for yourself and others. You need to hear these words. You need to know that what you speak has power. Compliment a stranger, and most importantly, compliment yourself.

I moved a mountain

I have always gotten a knot in my stomach when even thinking about talking to my dad about everything gone wrong between us. I wasn’t scared of him, but I was scared of the aftermath. I was scared of causing someone else to be uncomfortable. I was scared of tearing down an already fragile relationship. But this week, things changed. This week I took a leap of faith. This week I had courage like no other. This week we began to heal our relationship.

My dad and I have always had a gap in our relationship. There has always been something missing. What he thought was best at the time, turned out disastrous for me later down the road. He thought he was doing the right thing, and I was too afraid to tell him any different. I am a peacekeeper. I do not like drama. I do not like fights or arguments, and I would rather have myself get hurt than anyone else around me. But going through what I have been going through these last two years has shown me that sometimes those difficult conversations have to be had in order to move forward. You cannot live in the past and you can’t dwell on things you cannot change. But, you still have to acknowledge those things because they were real and they hurt us.

Before this week I had never told my dad what happened throughout my childhood and the trauma I went through. I never told him what happened and I always held that against him. I held something against him that he was not even aware of. Through my own healing and self-reflection lately, I was able to see that. And this week, we both took responsibility for our mistakes and we took the biggest step forward we ever had.

In my heart I know that my dad would lay down his life for me in a second. I know that he loves me and I know he feels guilty. But this week I could see it for myself. I saw that my pain hurt him. I saw his raw emotions and I saw that he really wants to be a daddy to me like I always wanted. This week I saw a great foundation being built between us that we can move forward with. He cannot go back in time and neither can I, but this week I saw that he would go back and change what happened in a heart beat and that is what I needed. I waited years and years to hear the words he said this week and I felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

These last two years have been about healing: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The stress of what happened made me sick. And I will deal with that for the remainder of my life. But my dad is sick too. And that loose end was tied up this week. That loose end is now a knot that we will continue to work through.

This week could have went 2 drastically different ways. And it went the best way possible. My leap of faith was the best choice I have ever made. Having that little ounce of courage helped me and my dad heal. I was scared, but I was fearless. It sounds like an oxymoron but it isn’t. Because I was scared and I overcame that fear with faith and strength. I found the strength inside myself. I want to tell you that just because you have had a bad relationship with someone (maybe parent, grandparent, friend, aunt, uncle, brother, sister etc.) your entire life does not mean that it is beyond repair. Just because you have not spoken to them or had a real conversation with them in years means nothing. I want you to feel the strength that I felt. I want you to have God on your side. I have no doubt we had angels in there with us this week. I want you to know that taking a leap of faith can change your world, and it can help you heal. Having faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. Imagine it, you moving a mountain. That is amazing to think about. You need to hear that I believe in you. I believe that you can move that mountain. I believe that you can be honest with the person who has caused you pain. I believe that you are strong.

What being a fighter means

I think that at this point, the whole world knows that the United States Women’s National Soccer team won the world cup. I love soccer and I love watching this team play and I followed each player and their journey to becoming the world champions. Carli Lloyd, the MVP of the world cup, said something in an interview that caught my attention. She said “I am a fighter. I will stand strong. I will stumble and I will fall but I will never give up.”

She didn’t say that she “may fall” but she said “I will fall”. There is no doubt about it that in this life, you will fail and experiences hardships. But, your reaction to those are what makes you, you. No matter how great of a person you are and how nice you are, there will always be someone that pushes you to your limit, and convinces you that you should give up. That your fight isn’t worth it. Well I am here to tell you that it is so worth it. Your fight for life is worth it.

Being a fighter does not mean you won’t fall and you wont experience obstacles. Being a fighter can only be defined by you. You may struggle with an addiction to self-harm but you haven’t reached for a blade in 2 weeks. You are a fighter. You may have a chronic illness and go to the hospital once or twice a week. You are a fighter. Or you may just be having a hard time and you got out of bed every single day this week. You are a fighter. A fighter can cry and kick and scream because that is how we as humans experience emotions. Some may get angry and some may just cry (I just cry). Being a fighter or classifying yourself as a one doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings. You do not have to be a brick wall with no emotions to be strong. You just cannot ever give up.

I will not sugar coat it. I almost gave up. I almost ended it all because I didn’t know how to cope with what I was going through. I felt like I ripped apart my family by being honest about my trauma. People were cruel to me and I couldn’t handle everything I was feeling. But I was a fighter, because in the end, I didn’t give up. I never truly wanted to. I just wanted someone to tell me that it was okay to feel what I was feeling. I feel all of my emotions so deeply. I love deeply and I get hurt deeply. It is a blessing and a curse because I love with all my heart but that can hurt sometimes. But I embrace it because that is who I am. That is how I make connections with people. Some “friends” used to tell me that I wasn’t tough because I was sensitive and they said I wasn’t strong. No one ever told me that I was allowed to feel deeply. No one ever told me that I was a survivor. No one ever told me that I had all the strength and spirit that I needed already inside me. But through my own healing, I learned that how I deeply and how much I feel is okay. Just because I hurt doesn’t make me a wimp, it makes me human. People knock me down 9 times but I stand up 10. (Sometimes it just takes longer to stand up than others and that is okay too).

I want you to know and hear that your small victories that maybe no one else notices but you, are meaningful. I want you to know and hear that you are a fighter for surviving. And some days just surviving is all you can do. That is okay. You are a fighter and you stand strong. When you are backed in a corner with no one else there to help you, let your strength take over. Feel your emotions because that is how you heal. If you need to cry for 2 hours straight one day to let everything out, do it. Never let another person take away your fighting spirit. Because we all have that spirit. We have to know in our hearts that if you let that spirit take over, the pain will get better. You have more strength in your heart than you could ever imagine. A fighter like you and I never gives up. Do not ever give up. I have your back and I am so proud of you for coming this far.

A faith that breeds bravery

The bible talks about having a child-like faith, and I never really understood that until I witnessed it first-hand. Children have a type of faith like no other. They believe without question, and they have a hope that never dies. Teens and adults doubt, and question things all the time. We ask the “who, what, why, and where”. Kids don’t think about those things, you ask them to trust you or believe in something, and they will.

If you tell a kid who is dying of leukemia that it will be ok, they wont doubt that. If you tell a kid who is missing a leg that they can climb a mountain, they will climb the mountain. Many times adults and the peers around you have been through experiences that have made them doubt themselves and others. They almost always see the glass-half-empty because they have had life experiences that led them to believe that is how you don’t get hurt. But I have learned that having that blind faith, will help you go farther than doubt ever will.

Ever since I was a kid I was always positive, and I saw the good in everyone and everything. I always trusted and believed in people even when they hurt me. I chose to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. To be honest I was probably naive, but that was, and is, who I am.

Two years ago I was not a positive person anymore, everything was not fine, and everyone hurt me. Everyone was forcing me to do and say thing I was not ready to and everything had a dark undertone. I was in a black hole of sorrow and negativity where the “trusted” adults around me continued to push me farther into a negative mentality. I lost the faith that I had. I lost the blind trust that I gave people. I lost hope and bravery.

But somewhere between two summers ago and now, I gained my faith back. I began to see the good in people again. I began to believe the positive words I would tell people when times were hard. I started to believe my own words of hope and triumph. Everyone telling me “just be positive”, “everything will get better”, (and my personal favorite) “you’re fine just have faith”, were just empty words. I had to start to believe them for myself. I had to come to realize that I needed to take my own advice. Empty words of advice have no power. People will give advice just to give it, but they do not understand that no one will believe your words until you believe them yourself. Your words have the power to change people. But you have to have faith in your words and you have to trust yourself in what you tell others.

I learned as I got my faith back, in Jesus and in people, that I was a happier person. I started to believe that things will be ok after all. The child’s faith I had for so many years did not go away, it was just tucked away while I learned how to heal. With faith comes hope and bravery. With hope and bravery come strength and perseverance.

I want you to hear that it is ok not to be positive all the time when you’re struggling to heal. But I also want you to know that blind faith with give you back the hope you think that you lost. I want you to know that with faith breeds love, hope, and bravery.

Be a glow stick

It is probably something odd to think about but glow sticks have always kind of amazed me. There is a bunch of ‘magical’ liquid within this cylinder piece of plastic that must be bent and shaken to actually work. Even as a kid it just baffled me that something so plain and odd-looking must be distorted in some way to be beautiful. I think that people are the same way. Sometimes we have to break before we shine.

In the world today, we are taught from a young age to mask our pain. We are taught to keep it hidden and ‘”fake it until you make it”. But, I believe that pain is what makes us unique. Our experiences make us unique and therefore, pain is a part of that. Pain is a part of our story.

 When I felt alone and broken, many told me that I just needed to move on. They said that I should not cry or be mad. They said I needed to get over it so I would not draw attention to myself. Looking back, that hurts me to my core. Pain is real and it can take over your heart when you use all of you energy to hide it. Many days I held in tears the entire day and I would go to my room at night and explode. One I started crying I could not stop. That was my form of healing though. Everyone heals differently. Everyone expresses emotions differently and thats is ok. That is ok. 

I wish someone could have shown me what a glow stick meant. I wish someone would have told me that it is ok to be bent and broken because that is how I would shine. These words you need to hear. I want you to know that your pain is important and it is NOT meant to be swept under the rug. Be a glow stick. Let your light shine through overwhelming pain. Be the night- light you need to keep living. Stay strong.